Wow, it sure feels good to be back, both at home *and* at work. And yeah Biz, I did put the fire out — thanks for the guestblogging.

I just finished uploading a heap of photos to Flickr — they'll likely provide lots of blogging fodder for the forseeable future... here's the view from the top of Stok Kangri, 20,000+ feet (or 6000+ meters if you swing that way):


Ladakh: Day 19

Mountains & Monasteries itinerary:

"This is a buffer day in case of flight delays getting to Delhi."

Ah, the Buffer Day. It's always good to have the Buffer Day. In fact, I propose that we replace Tuesday with Buffer Day. That way, you can struggle through Monday, take the Buffer Day to reassess, glide through hump day, work from home on Thursday, and then whew—TGIF. This is good. If we've learned anything from Eric's trek through the mountainous regions of a far away land it's the importance of having a Buffer Day. Okay, this is my last guest post. I'm done here (as soon as I paste my adsense code into all of Eric's blog templates).


Ladakh: Day 18

Mountains & Monasteries itinerary:

"We take a morning flight to Delhi to stay at the luxurious Imperial Palace in Connaught Place where we'll have the afternoon to explore."


Ladakh: Day 17

Mountains & Monasteries itinerary:

"Today we take a pleasant hike down the Lower Stok Valley, a beautiful gorge of geological beauty with upturned layers of green and red and occasional herds of Blue Sheep dancing across the precarious cliff sides opposite the trail. We'll also pass under the ruins of old Stok fortifications set high above the trail that once prevented invaders from coming down through the narrow valley. We make our way down to the village of Stok and return to Leh, a delightful end to a fantastic journey."


Ladakh: Day 16

Mountains & Monasteries itinerary:

"An early morning start is essential for those eager to reach the summit. In late summer, the route is usually free of snow and a trail leads us up to the ridge at about 19,000 feet. From here it's a relatively short hike/scramble to the summit at just over 20,000 feet! There are commanding views of Kang Yatze to the Southeast, the Ladakh range that we crossed over to the North, and the entire Eastern Karakorams. We return back to our basecamp and celebrate our efforts."


Ladakh: Day 15

Mountains & Monasteries itinerary:

"We move a short distance up to our high camp. An important day for anyone wishing to summit Stok Kangri. Sleeping higher helps us to acclimatize as well as shorten the ascent for tomorrow. Turning the corner into the Upper Stok Valley, we get our first full view of Stok Kangri. The ascent route follows the left skyline."


Ladakh: Day 14

Mountains & Monasteries itinerary:

"Today is a rest day at Base Camp where there are opportunities to explore amongst this rugged alpine landscape. While our destination peak is out of view, our basecamp is surrounded by snow-capped summits including Palchen Kangri. We'll also keep our eyes peeled as there are Blue Sheep in the area. And where there are Blue Sheep, there usually haunts the elusive Snow Leopard."


Ladakh: Day 13

Mountains & Monasteries itinerary:

"For those staying on to visit the Stok Kangri region, we drive to Matho and begin the trek to Base Camp. (long day of about 7hrs)"


Ladakh: Day 12

Mountains & Monasteries itinerary:

"Today we continue over 2 more small passes in this valley following a ridge — a gradual and lovely walk to the pastures of Gyamsa (village above Leh) and either drive back to Leh (30 mins) or continue walking to Leh where you end in Changspa. The total walking will be approximately 7 hrs and not too difficult."


Ladakh: Day 11

Mountains & Monasteries itinerary:

"The big day! Leaving the pastures we keep climbing to the snow line and moraine to the top of the Lasermo La pass at an incredible altitude of 17,700ft! The effort put into the climb is rewarded with commanding views of the Eastern Karakoram mountains to the North, the Stok Range to the South, and the sweeping valleys on both sides below. There could be snow at the pass and pack animals may need to be unloaded and loads ferried by our crew. From the pass, we'll descend the Phyiang valley to our camp at 14,750 ft. Average: 6 - 7 hours walking."


Ladakh: Day 10

Mountains & Monasteries itinerary:

"After a day of rest and acclimatization, we're ready to move up to the base camp of Lasermo La. The gradual climb across the pastures is again carpeted with flowers and follows a stream to our camp for the night at 14,750 ft. Average: 5 hours walking."


Ladakh: Day 9

Mountains & Monasteries itinerary:

"A day set aside for resting and acclimatization, we keep our camp pitched in Brok Yogma. For the more active and adventurous, there will be an opportunity to make an excursion to the seldom visited peaks of Brok Gongma and Sniu Sumdo."


Ladakh: Day 8

Mountains & Monasteries itinerary:

"Today we continue gradually up past the beautiful summer pastures of Hundar Dok River filled with flowers, passing through the tiny settlements of Wacham, Dokyogma and Drokygogma. The villagers of Hundar Dok are known for being very friendly. We then follow the Thanglasgo river to camp at Brok Yogma (13,775 ft). Average: 5 hours walk."


Ladakh: Day 7

Mountains & Monasteries itinerary:

"From Hundar, we take to the trail following the river. After crossing a bridge, we climb gently up a narrow and impressive gorge until we reach a long plateau. At the confluence of 2 streams is the small Hamlet of Skarchen (12,500 ft) consisting of shepherds' huts where we'll make our camp for the evening. Average: 5 hours walk."


Ladakh: Day 6

Mountains & Monasteries itinerary:

"Our destination today is Hundar (1hr) and we visit Deskit village and its monastery en route. In Hundar, we'll meet with our camp crew in the beautiful camping grounds and spend our first night in tents. There are sand dunes nearby which we can visit with the possibility of doing a short camel ride on the unique Bactrian (double humped) camels."

Now that's what I'm talking about! Busting out the tents. And the camels? I think this trip just got kicked up a notch.


Ladakh: Day 5

Mountains & Monasteries itinerary:

"Today we travel over the Khardung La — 18,360 ft, the highest motorable pass in the world, into the fertile Nubra Valley having fairly large villages, well kept monasteries and surrounded by snowcapped peaks. Fed by the Shyok River, this wide valley with an average altitude of about 10,000 ft has a warmer climate than the Indus Valley of Leh. Falling on the ancient caravan silk trade route to Central Asia, the village of Kyagar and Panamic were important stopover points with Panamic being the last point to stock before the long journey across the high passes to Central Asia. Our destination for the day is the village of Kyagar where we'll have a chance to visit the Samstaling monastery."

These descriptions sound like the ones from Mission Impossible. Should I post them or will they self-destruct? In any case, I'm glad Eric has that helicopter rescue insurance. We should all have that, really.


Ladakh: Day 4

Mountains & Monasteries itinerary:

"We'll spend the morning visiting the Alchi monastery, famed for its beautiful and intricate frescoes from the Kashmiri period. We can see a marked difference in the architectural and painting styles between this monastery and the ones we visited yesterday which, in an experiential way, will help us to understand part of the rich history of this incredible area."

I hope Eric set his Talking Panda to speak Koshur.


Ladakh: Day 3

Mountains & Monasteries itinerary:

"We'll spend the morning visiting the famous Thiksey and Hemis Buddhist monasteries with their colorful Tibetan-style paintings and 2-story sitting Buddha temples. After lunch we drive to Alchi, one of the oldest surviving monasteries from a period when Kashmir was at the center of Mahayana Buddhism. We'll have time to stroll around the surrounding area and take in some local culture."

Oh man, now Eric is going to be able to say things like, "Alchi? Heh! I spent a week there one night."


Ladakh: Day 2

Mountains & Monasteries itinerary:

"Today we have a short, early morning flight to Leh, the capital of Ladakh, where we will spend the day resting and acclimatizing with a chance to stroll around this ancient and historic town."

So Eric is strolling around an ancient historic town somewhere on a remote continent. It's not like I can't do stuff too. For example, I could take the dog for a walk right now if I want. I even have little biodegradable baggies made exclusively to bring along on such an event should other events occur during the main event. So to speak.


Ladakh: Day 1

Hey, this is Biz Stone speaking italic. Eric asked me to guestblog for him and it seems he was under the mistaken impression that I was just going to publish his itinerary as it happens. Sure, I'll do that, but as long as I have all his secret codes and full access to this blog as well as all his other blogs, I might as well mix it up. So expect some drastic changes around here beginning with the template design. Kidding! I joke because I kid. It's a wonderful thing. Okay, here's Eric:

Mountains & Monasteries itinerary:

"The group arrives in Delhi and gathers in the hotel for a briefing and a rest."

Biz here again. I'm sorry but Eric's post sounds like the TiVo description for a new show on the Discovery Channel. I don't write them folks, I'm just the guestblogger. Rest assured, he probably has that big Case-adilla™ grin on his face getting ready for the adventure he's about embark upon.


Manual Override

I'm gonna be doing fun stuff for the next ~3 weeks, but I'll likely be offline for most (if not all) of it. Unfortunately Blogger can't (yet) auto-publish future-dated posts, so Biz is gonna lend a hand and guest-blog for me. Unlike the last time I had a guest-blogger though, it'll look like I'm actually posting—if all goes as planned, each day's itinerary will appear here as the trek progresses. Alas that Tiger isn't out yet!

Anyway, the text is from the itinerary Zach emailed us, with this disclaimer:
"The following is a day-to-day description of the Nubra Valley Trek detailing the sights and destinations we plan to encounter. Please take it only as a guideline as circumstances may occasionally dictate a change in the itinerary."